AMVETS National Commander, Cleve Geer’s 2013 M emorial Day Message
On this Memorial Day we look to the words of President John F. Kennedy: “A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces, but also by the men it remembers, the men it honors.” As Americans, may we forever commit to revealing our nation as one that holds true the memory and full measure of sacrifice our nation’s heroic men and women have given to secure life, liberty, and freedom for us all.
Memorial Day is one of our nation’s oldest and most significant holidays, born solely of our shared American heritage. Together, we recall the glory and sacrifice of all who have set their personal aspirations aside for the preservation of our society. We owe an enormous amount of gratitude to these men and women for taking up arms against all enemies of the United States, both foreign and domestic.
More than 1.3 million Americans have perished as a result of military conflicts throughout our nation’s history. We spend our holiday gathered with family and friends, ushering in the beginning of summer at picnics and parties, but it is important we remember why we gather on this day. We do this to celebrate those fathers, brothers, sons, mothers, sisters, and daughters, who gave all of their tomorrows so that we could have our todays.
The brave men and women we honor today selflessly gave of themselves to defend a way of life where all people can determine their own futures, free of oppression and fear. Over the last decade our country has asked much of our young men and women to fight for our values and ideals in the Middle East. This is why I ask that we all pay our respects to the brave American military men and women and their families who have made innumerable sacrifices in the ongoing Global War on Terrorism.
We must remain vigilant against those who wish us harm and join together, as we have done so many times before, to truly build a better future for our posterity.
The residents of Waterloo, NY, started the Memorial Day tradition in 1866 to remember the soldiers of the civil war. Today we keep that custom by placing flags on the graves of the fallen and by paying silent and public tribute to those who stepped well beyond the lines of fear, doubt, and self-preservation to uphold the free society that even our most desperate enemies admire.
AMVETS has long made it a top priority to honor our fallen heroes, whether it is through the establishment and preservation of the USS Arizona Memorial in Hawaii, or the AMVETS Carillons, which ring out at veterans’ cemeteries across our country and around the world as a constant reminder of those who have given all.
As Americans, may we never forget those who fought for our freedom, and may we celebrate the lives of those who have truly made America the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Today, of all days, we must reflect on what it truly means to live in freedom. We must solidify and reaffirm our commitment to our service members and their mission. We owe all of our veterans, past and present, a debt of gratitude for their sacrifices in the defense of liberty. In the words of President Abraham Lincoln, it is the job of the living to “take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure.” We owe it to the heroes that died and the loved ones left behind to make sure that their sacrifices are remembered and that their service to this nation always be honored.
May God bless our veterans and may God bless America.